What’s a small number? How small is small? Well, that’s relative, of course. If you need to buy something for $10, that’s a small number. But if you need to buy a million $10 items, that’s not a small number.
One of the oldest sales tricks in the book takes advantage of our feeling that a few dollars is a small number. I’m thinking of the late-night pitch that goes, “For only $1.29 per day, you can start enjoying our product right now.” This attempted sale is hoping that you won’t grab a calculator and figure that this purchase actually costs $470.85 a year. That calculation could be a deal killer if it triggers the anxiety you recently felt in Costco when contemplating, “Can I really afford $499 for a fancy new deck chair.”
My personal pet peeve is the common scare tactic of shouting out, “You are THREE TIMES more likely… ” We are rarely given the absolute numbers allowing us to judge how meaningful three times is.
Let’s say that a certain stretch of road experiences an average of one fatality per million user vehicles. There is an alternate route that sees three fatalities for the same number of user vehicles. It is absolutely true that you are three times more likely to die on the alternate stretch of highway. And there’s no doubt a giant blinking sign at the fork in the road that said “you are THREE TIMES more likely to die driving this road than the other” would influence your choice of routes. However, given the absolute fatality rate of one or three per million, you would likely shrug and say, “Yeah, accidents happen.”
On the other hand, what if there is a brain condition that adversely affects 90 percent of all elderly people. Medical research finds a drug that reduces the number of affected people to 30 percent. Now, shouting out that the drug results in THREE TIMES fewer people suffering from this condition is a very meaningful small number.
This month, I find Dr. Steffe’s Alternative Physical Therapy column on page 37 entitled “Intermittent Fasting” to be highly interesting. I have been an intermittent faster for over 20 years… long before I ever heard the term. For a long time now I have only taken one meal a day—a dinner, as late as 10 pm. I absolutely love this lifestyle because I don’t get hungry during the day and once I finally sit down to eat, I can totally pig out.
Dr. Steffe does a great job of presenting all the technical details of intermittent fasting. He did not, however, mention a side benefit, and one of the early reasons that drove me to skip meals—saving time. As any entrepreneur will tell you, “Time is money.” The time spent on breakfast and lunch could be as much as an hour or two a day. Multiply that small number by 365 and you are burning from two weeks to a month a year doing nothing but eating!
Beware small numbers.
My pondering this month has a lot to do with having a long attention span... or not. So, if you have a very short attention span and relish that behavior you can stop reading right now and move on to your next curiosity. I have always had a very long attention span to...
There are a lot of things about our mountain community to be upset about, especially if you are recently from California. However, the one characteristic of our community that we all might agree upon is that it really does feel like a small town. I have said, since I...
Last month, Holly and I took her mother’s Ford Fusion in to get the rear turn signal fixed. Seems pretty simple. Replace the burned-out bulb, right? Are you sitting down? Because of the fancy new LED design, the entire assembly had to be replaced at a cost of about...
The Peace of Silence
Winter Is Coming
From an old Sam Cooke song performed by the Kingston Trio… “Way out West they got a name for rain and wind and fire. The rain is Tess, the fire is Joe and they call the wind Mariah.” Hmmm… There’s no name for snow? On today’s morning walk, the mountains whispered to...
It seems like I frequently feel like giving thanks a month earlier than the traditional day of Thanksgiving. It must be the appearance of the golden aspen leaves of October, which by November are only a brown mess underfoot. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado offer...
Well, Holly and I are finally married. I actually proposed and gave her a ring in December of 2019. But then Covid forced us to reschedule our originally planned 2020 honeymoon for this next month. We are so looking forward to a longawaited and well deserved nine...
Peggy Noonan recently wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Lonely Office Is Bad for America.” Based on the title alone, I was pretty sure that I would be in agreement. On the surface that might seem odd since I walked away from the corporate...